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Financial Ability

Helping the people of County Durham to be more in control of their money.

The North East has some the lowest levels of savings in the UK. More than half of the population have less than £100 in savings and would struggle if they lost their job or faced unexpected expenses. Working families in County Durham are increasingly worried about their finances with many becoming reliant on high cost, long and short-term credit. This is costing the County millions of pounds annually, because so much of the interest paid back to these lenders, leaves the County.

Over the last five years we have been developing a project that is helping to deal with these issues head on by supporting everyone to reduce their household bills, pay off credit or save for a rainy day. The Financial Ability project is part of our wider strategy aimed at tackling poverty and changing the debt culture into a savings culture.

How businesses can get involved

The Financial Ability project works closely with County Durham businesses to help improve the financial wellbeing of their staff. The aim of the project is to help businesses implement savings schemes in the workplace where staff can save directly from their wages. This also fits into a much wider Public Health agenda that is looking at the physical and mental wellbeing of workers called the "Better Health at Work Award". The award helps businesses formalise the work they are often already doing around staff wellbeing but includes financial resilience.

Our credit union partner has developed systems that make it easy for businesses to setup and offer their employees a simple method of saving directly from their pay. They take care of membership recruitment and all of the administration. Research shows that being more in control of our finances leads to less sickness due to stress, more motivated staff, and better health generally.

Our virtual workshops, delivered online, will give staff the information and confidence to negotiate the best deals on everything from household bills to loans, insurance and banking products, with the aim of improving their financial wellbeing and saving money for a rainy day..

Contact us to find out more and arrange for someone to explain how you and your staff could benefit from Financial Ability. 

How schools can get involved

Our schools are at the heart of many of our communities and they are in a unique position to engage families on a regular basis. The Financial Ability project offers schools several ways to get involved and help families reduce debt, household expenditure and save money.

One of the easiest ways that schools can engage with Financial Ability is by hosting virtual events that will attract staff, parents and families; these can include financial wellbeing, debt and saving, cutting household expenditure and maximising income.

Schools can also set up savings banks for children and help them save small amounts of money on a regular basis. It is the regularity that often leads to a savings habit, having a positive effect on the life of an individual.

In most cases, schools have direct communication with parents and guardians; this can enable schools to share the important messages about financial resilience delivered by the County.

We want all schools to be involved, so we work with school staff, parents and families first, then introduce school saving where appropriate; it is all about finding the right solution for each individual school.

The Financial Ability schemes in schools are running across the county; contact your school to find out if they are part of the project.

Community groups can also get involved in virtual sessions; contact us to find out more.

Credit Unions

Anyone can join their local credit union. Find out more on our Credit unions, financial help and debt advice page.

The Credit Union is a 'not for profit social enterprise' regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority; they provide a government guarantee on all savings, so it is a safe place to save.

Complete your own personal finance audit

Carry out your own personal finance audit and save money by switching deals and suppliers. You could save money by switching your home energy provider, TV or broadband package, household or car insurance provider and bank account, credit card or mortgage provider.

Further support and advice

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Durham Savers